Physicians aim to shine light on why drugs cost so much

Andis Robeznieks , Senior News Writer

AMA federal and state advocacy efforts to further drug price transparency will be expanded under new policies that take drugmakers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and health insurers to task for their roles they play in rising drug costs and less access to affordable treatment.

“As spikes in prescription drug prices occur without justification, the American Medical Association believes we need more transparency to protect patients from drug price gouging and manipulation,” said AMA President-elect Barbara L. McAneny, MD.  “Greater transparency among pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers and health plans will shed light on the rationale for drug price increases and why patients pay what they do for their medications.”

The policies were adopted at the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting in Honolulu. They build upon related measures adopted at this year’s Annual Meeting. The new policies also highlight the grassroots campaign featured on the AMA’s interactive website.

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The resolution adopted by the House of Delegates created new policies to:

  • Oppose provisions in pharmacies’ contracts with PBMs that prohibit pharmacists from disclosing that a patient’s co-pay is higher than the drug’s cash price.
  • Advocate for policies that prohibit price gouging on prescription medications when there are no justifiable factors or data to support the price increase.

The resolution also directed the AMA to:

  • Continue its efforts with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners addressing the development and management of pharmacy benefits.
  • Develop model state legislation on the development and management of pharmacy benefits.
  • Continue implementation of the campaign to expand drug pricing transparency among pharmaceutical manufacturers, PBMs and health plans, and to communicate the impact of each of these segments on drug prices and access to affordable treatment.

The AMA created to hear from patients and their struggles to afford their medications. The site gives consumers an opportunity to tell their stories of how rising prices are affecting their health and their finances.

Read more news coverage from the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting.